Topics for January 2018

January 7, 2018 - Dr. Larry Bates will present, "Simplicity".  For centuries people have lamented about the ways that life is becoming more complex.  Our current age, likewise, searches for some antidote to complexity, but the quest seems ever illusive.  This talk will examine some of the motivations underlying our search for simplicity.

January 14, 2018 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "On Cleaning Up After Christmas".  Trees and ornaments and other decorations carry many memories that we seldom visit except at this time of year.  What does it feel like to unpack them, and then to repack them again?

January 21, 2018 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "On Living Until You Die".  Does one really "fight" an illness, or choose to embrace life?

January 28, 2018 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "Knowing Your Role".  The meaning of life is about deciding your role in it and remembering your limitations.

Topics for December 2017

December 3, 2017 - Daphne Simpkins will present, "Truth and Beauty for Christmas". "I want truth and beauty for Christmas and I want it for the New Year, too."  To end the old year and begin the new, we'll take a renewing look at the famous assertion by John Keats.  "Beauty is truth, truth beauty--that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know" and see where it can take us.

December 10, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "What Do You Notice First About Another Person?"

December 17, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "A Lesson from the Birth Narratives?"  Two different stories yield such different results. What is the Christmas story really about?

December 21, 2017 ( Thursday night) - Winter Solstice Service.  Candlelight and Harp Music featuring Annette Harman.  7:00 p.m.  Refreshments following the service.

December 24, 2017 - Services dismissed.

December 31, 2017 - Music by David Walton and readings for the New Year!  
Topics for November 2017

November 5, 2017 - Daphne Simpkins
 will present, "Thoughts and Prayers".  Whatever your views on prayers or sending positive thoughts, the story of David from the Old Testament gives us occasion to consider both.  Why?  Because not only is David's broad and dramatic biography, which includes giant-killing, murder, becoming king and the later insurrection by two sons recounted in 1 and 2 Samuel and into the first three chapters of 1 Kings, but his interior life -- his autobiography of sorts-- comprises much of the Psalms.  In short, we have his life story as seen by others, and we have his thoughts and prayers as told by him.  As we approach the season of Thanksgiving when talk of "thoughts and prayers" abound, we will take a reminiscing look at one of the early thinkers whose prayers inform music, holidays, family occasions, and common expressions in our daily language, especially in the South.  

November 12, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "What do the Coming Holidays Have to Offer a Society on the Edge?" We are approaching the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, do they offer us a reason for hope?

November 19, 2017- Dr.. Carl Gebhardt will present, "What Are You Thankful For?".  It is an old and often asked question, but much has changed since this time last year.  Can you focus and express your gratitude?

November 26, 2017 - Bill Parkhurst will present, "A Most Dangerous Religion". 

Topics for October 2017

October 1, 2017 - Mitch Mann, Guitarist and Songwriter will present a program of acoustic music.

October 8, 2017 - Rev. Doug Traversa, Unitarian Universalist Minister, from Tullahoma, Tennessee will present, "The War on Transgender People".  

October 15, 2017 - Speaker will be Dr. Carl Gebhardt.

October 22, 2017 - Chuck Morgret, Unitarian Universalist Lay Speaker from Tullahoma, Tennessee will present, "A Discussion of Our Third Principle: Acceptance of One Another and Encouragement to Spiritual Growth in Our Congregations". 

October 29, 2017 - Becca Lopez, President of the Shoals Diversity Center will present, "The Shoals Diversity Center".  

Topics for September 2017

September 3, 2017 - Dr. Bill Cale, will present, "Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction".  Evidence for climate change will be examined.  One impact of rapid global warming is on the future of the earth's biota, the so-called sixth extinction, which will then be reviewed.

September 10, 2017 - Rev. Carl Gebhardt will be the speaker.

September 17, 2017 - Dr. Larry Bates, will present, "Clouds".  For years now, clouds have been used as a metaphor for a sign of some unpleasantness for the future.  Now a cloud is where we store our photos.  The metaphor needs some work perhaps.  This talk will take a different look at clouds.

September 24, 2017 - Rev. Carl Gebhardt will be the speaker.

Topics for August 2017

August 6, 2017 - Brenda Durham, Certified Life Mastery Consultant, will present, "Bitter or Better".  We cannot control the events and circumstances of our lives.  Stuff happens.  People act the way they act, and not always so nicely toward us.  We have choices about how we react or respond to circumstances and people.  Join Brenda for an interesting perspective on how to turn bitter into better. Workshop: August 6, 2017,  What's Next In Your Life --- Led by Brenda Durham, 2:00 -3:30 at the UU.  Free and open to the public. 

August 13, 2017 - Chuck Morgret, will present, "Justice, Equity, and Compassion: A Discussion of our Second Principle".  

August 20, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "How to Resist an Evil Empire".  The Jews of the Middle East in the centuries preceding the Christian era resisted the Greek and Roman Empires.  What could they teach us today?

August 27, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "Your Mouth Can Get You In Trouble".  Sometimes, in tense situations, things come out of our mouths before our brains have a chance to filter them.  Is that always bad?

Topics for JULY 2017

July 2, 2017 - Rev. Doug Traversa will present, "Humanism to Mysticism- the Past 55 Years of Unitarian Universalism".

July 9, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will be the speaker.

July 16, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will be the speaker.

July 23, 2017 - The Blue Navigators will kick off the W.C. Handy Festival at the UU!  Come start a week of fun and blues with the UU Congregation!

July 30, 2017 - Daphne Simpkins will present, "W.C. Handy & Friends". Even though the Shoals in Alabama quite rightly and proudly claim William Christopher Handy as their own ( he was born in Florence in 1873) and celebrate his achievement annually in their July W. C. Handy Festival, Mr. Handy's influence has a far greater reach and he has many more friends than just the folks of northern Alabama.  Scores of Handy's musical friends and beneficiaries of his art have played and sung his music; and when they did, their interpretation of his blues artistry brings to life different aspects of his musical and storytelling genius.  At its heart, the blues is a storytelling art form inspired by folk music. 

Arguably the most revelatory single piece of music Handy wrote is the often interpreted and recorded 1914 signature blues hymn, "st. Louis Blues".  Born out of a lament over being hungry and poor and sleeping under the St. Louis bridge, the song has become a keynote anthem for blues, jazz, and even pop.  It set the stage and the pattern for more laments and "blues" influencing performers and poets that followed him.

This program is a part of the Alabama Humanities Foundation Roads Scholars Program and also featured as a part of the W.C. Handy Blues Festival.

Topics for JUNE 2017

June 4, 2017 - Daphne Simpkins will present, "Nuns on the Run ( and other stories of the Reformation)". Celebrating its 500th anniversary this year, the Reformation has many causes and effects, and the man most often accorded praise and blame for the challenge to papal authority is Martin Luther who married one of the nuns on the run, in part "to rile the pope".  Ms. Simpkins will be telling that story and others that flesh out the back-story to this often riotous dispute over who controlled the authority of truth: the Pope or the Bible?

June 11, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will be the speaker.

June 18, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will be the speaker.

June 25, 2017 - Dr. Bill Cale will present, "The Influence of the Christian Church on the Advancement of Science".   It is widely held that the development of science from the early fifth century into the modern era has been impeded by the influence of the Christian Church.  The familiar example of the imprisonment of Galileo in the seventeenth century is usually cited as the most powerful evidence, but advocacy for intelligent design is another example in this, the 21st century.  However, these examples do not tell the full story and there is ample counter evidence that the early church was a great benefactor of science.  The historical connections between religion and science are examined in this presentation. 

Topics for MAY 2017

May 7, 2017 - The Blue Navigators will present a musical program filled with variety.... blues, folk, pop and rock.  A relaxing and fun service to kick off the month of May!

May 14, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "Through All of the Changes in Your Life, What Have You Learned About Yourself?"

May 21, 2017 - Dolores Hydock, Actress and Storyteller from Birmingham, Alabama will present, "It Could Happen! Stories of Hope and Possibility."

May 28, 2017 - Rev. Doug Traversa, UU minister with the Tullahoma Unitarian Univresalist Church, will present, "Is Unitarian Universalism Transformative?"
Topics for APRIL 2017

April 2, 2017 - Daphne Simpkins will present, "Talking with Our Hands-- Ways and Why We Do It."  Author and educator Annie Murphy Paul says that research proves that "the movement we make with our hands when we talk constitute a kind of second language, adding information that's absent from our words."  But hand movements are used for much more than just gestures when talking.  Hand movements interpret dance and hearing impaired people sign with theirs.  We will use our words ( and our hands, too) to discuss why talking with our hands has significance.

April 9, 2017 - Speaker - Dr. Carl Gebhardt

April 16, 2017 - Speaker - Dr. Carl Gebhardt

April 23, 2017 - Chuck Morgret will present, "Inherent Worth and Dignity: A Discussion of Our First Principle."

April 30, 2017 - Dr. Larry Bates will present, "The Psychology of Time."  
"Physicists, philosophers, poets, and even psychologists occasionally examine time.  We can measure it so accurately now, but can't quite completely understand it either.  Ethereal, unpurchaseable, fragile, valuable, and ignored, it is automatically spent from each of our life banks, without our consent.  This talk examines this odd commodity we call time."

Topics for MARCH 2017

March 5, 2017 - Louisa Murray and Nathan Pitts, also known as The Bear will perform a program of original music.  Songwriters and musicians, Louisa and Nathan, who live in Tuscumbia, perform all across the country and give us Americana music at it's best!

March 12, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gephardt will present, 
"What is the Hardest Thing About Grief?"

March 19, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "Helping Children with the Meaning of Life".

March 26, 2017 - Rev. Doug Traversa will present, 
"What is Love, Really?"
Topics for FEBRUARY 2017

February 5, 2017 - Daphne Simpkins will not be with us because of an injury. Bill Parkhurst will fill in for her. (Also, singing practice
     scheduled for Feb 2 has been rescheduled for Feb 9.)

February 12, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "The Enduring Value of Jesus and Moses".  Why do so many people want to
"keep the old values?  What were they and what benefits do they still have for us?"

February 19, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, 
"What is the Funniest Thing that Ever Happened to You?" The best humor is
self-deprecating.  What can you tell on yourself?

February 26, 2017 - The Blue Navigators will entertain us with varying genres of music from rock, folk, blues all the way to traditional.  
Topics for JANUARY 2017

January 1, 2017 - Bill Parkhurst will present, "Let the Mystery Be."  As the song by Iris DeMent says, " I guess I'll just let the mystery be."  Others, however, from many faiths, traditions and philosophies believe that we can directly experience God - consciousness in this life.  Every mystic has a little different take on the hows, whys & whats even though the individual experiences are beyond the power of words to explain.  Let us cogitate on the passing of the old year and the coming of the new by taking a brief look at some of the worlds of the most noteworthy mystics.

January 8, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will fill-in for our speaker who cannot come because of inclement weather in Birmingham.
Brenda Durham will present, "Advancing Confidently Toward Your Dreams." Based on Henry David Thoreau's famous quote: "If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams, and endeavor to live the life which you have imagine, you will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."  ( Pronouns changed from "he" to "you")  This famous quote includes a code for living a life you would love to live.  Join us for an introduction to unlocking this code.  

January 15, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "What From Your Past Will Not Let You Go?".  We all carry "baggage" good and bad, from our past.  What is yours and why can't you let it go?

January 22, 2017 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "What From Your Future Will Not Let You Go?"  Most people are driven, not just by their past, but by their future also: hopes, dreams, goals.  What are yours?

January 29, 2017 - Rev. Doug Traversa will present, "The Politics of Religion." A Look at how the Bible is commonly misinterpreted  to justify a Christian Theocracy in our times.

December 4, 2016 - Daphne Simpkins will present, "Dead on Christmas Street".  When you canvas stories associated with Christmas you are likely to stumble upon this old John D. MacDonald short story "Dead on Christmas Street", a literary effort that captures evidence of the evolving skills of a writer who will become more famous ( and loved) for his Travis McGhee detective stories than ones about Santa Claus.  The word "Christmas" has been used in popular culture the way MacDonald does it in his story to simply tie a story that would have fit anytime to a holiday in order to attract readers.  It is a part of commercialism of the season that doesn't get explored very often; but, then, it isn't a big mystery to solve even for a detective story writer.  In this light-hearted talk, Christmas as a word and theme will be explored in terms of pop culture and to my own recently released book, Christmas in Fountain City, which celebrates the wonders of eating miracle fudge and the joy of spending Christmastime with friends.

December 11, 2016 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will be the speaker.

December 15, 2016 - Winter Solstice Celebration, 7:00 p.m. Featuring Harpist Annette Harman

December 18, 2016 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will be the speaker.

November 6, 2016 - Daphne Simpkins will present, "For Such a Time as This" During our own recent campaign season when politicians have not routinely proven themselves to be selfless advocates for the people they serve or want to serve, the story of Esther from the Old Testament reminds us of what an advocate for justice should be and that often our heroes are born "for such a time as this."  Although some scholars of Jewish history suggest that the book of Esther has comedic elements, most scholars recognize the heroism of the main character who took a risky and powerful stance to rescue her people from Haman's plot to have all Jews annihilated.  The need to take a stand still stands today and the story of Esther reminds us of why one voice matters, still.  This story marks the genesis of the Purim festival that Jewish people still celebrate today.

November 13, 2016 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "Oral and Written Memories: What Happens When We Commit Thoughts to Writing?"

November 20, 2016 - Dr. Carl Gebhardt will present, "Fantasizing Your Life As You Want It".

November 27, 2016 - Bill Parkhurst will present, "Essential Religion".  Let us try to connect the dots and consider the commonalities of religious wisdom useful in our work-a-day ( or retired) lives.  We will highlight several faith traditions.

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Shoals - 1332 N. Pine Street - Florence, Alabama 35630
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